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Interaction of Color

Interaction of Color [Detail]

There are few books on art and design that one could – hand on heart – describe as, “a masterwork in twentieth-century art education.” Josef Albers’ ‘Interaction of Color’ is, without question, one.

Albers – an artist and educator whose work both in Europe, as a member of the prestigious Bauhaus faculty; and the United States, as Head of School of Black Mountain College (where his students numbered, amongst others, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly), and, later, as Head of the Department of Design at Yale University – is a pillar of twentieth century art and design education and his ‘Interaction of Color’ distills his thoughts on colour into an indispensable book.

Originally published by Yale University Press in 1963 as a limited silkscreen edition with 150 color plates, ‘Interaction of Color’ first appeared in paperback in 1971, featuring just ten representative color studies chosen by Albers. In print ever since, it is now – to celebrate the book’s 50th Anniversary – available as an iPad app.

As Yale University Press puts it:

Fifty years after [its] initial publication, this new edition presents a significantly expanded selection of close to sixty color studies alongside Albers’s original text, demonstrating such principles as color relativity, intensity, and temperature; vibrating and vanishing boundaries; and the illusion of transparency and reversed grounds.

As is fitting for a book of this calibre, Yale University Press has crafted a book worthy of its original author’s intentions. Featuring archival audio and video of Albers talking the reader through special excercise, and additional commentary courtesy of Albers’ former students, Albers’ most challenging principles are explained and clarified.

As Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters, puts it:

Beyond groundbreaking…. This is the example the world has been waiting for. An extraordinary piece of education and inspiration.

Navigation between the original text, additional commentary and the book’s colour plates is seamless, with important definitions just a click away. Plates – one of the most important aspects of the book – are now fully interactive, offering new ways to experience the book’s core content.

The app is wonderfully immersive, enabling readers to interact with – and save - colour exercises. This ability, to really work with the book, helps you to truly understand Albers’ ideas and Yale University Press aren’t guilty of hyperbole when they state: “This interactive edition … offers users an entirely new way to experience Josef Albers’s original masterwork.”

Should paper be your preferred medium (and given the different ways colour is realised both off- and on-screen, it perhaps should be), you might like to pick up a copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition, priced at just £11.99 or $18.00. Every self-respecting designer should really own a copy.

Lastly – should money prove no object – you might like to invest in a copy of the New Complete Edition, described as follows:

Lavishly produced as a two volume slipcased set, this book replicates Albers’s revolutionary exercises … through the use of color, shape, die-cut forms, and movable flaps that illustrate his astonishing demonstrations of the changing and relative nature of color.

Also included for the first time are new studies from the Albers archive, produced by the artist’s students in the early 1960s. A celebration of Albers’s legendary achievements, this beautiful publication is an essential addition to any serious art library.

An investment, priced at just £165.00 or $250.00, we’re sure we don’t need to tell you that we’re sorely tempted to make a case for picking up a couple of copies of the New Complete Edition – “on purely educational grounds,” of course – it looks lovely indeed.

[Via Mr Santa Maria.]

1375469820 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter